I recently posted on the formation of a new crypto communist party in Indonesia. The new party has now been officially launched.
Senior Democratic Socialist Perspective member and Sydney University Asian Studies lecturer, Max Lane, attended the Jakarta launch. Below is an edited version of his report published in the latest Green Left Weekly
On July 23, 1500 people attended a rally at the National Library of Indonesia to publicly launch a new political party — the Preparatory Committee of the National Liberation Party of Unity (KP-Papernas) — for the 2009 Indonesian elections. Most of those attending were from poor districts in and around Jakarta. The majority were women.
The KP-Papernas had already held a conference, elected the preparatory committee, set out some basic policies, and elected as its chairperson Domingus Kiuk, the chairperson of the Indonesian National Front for Workers Struggle, the country’s radical left-wing trade union organisation. It was announced at the rally that Papernas would hold a founding congress in November.
The main initiator of the new party project is the People’s Democratic Party, a radical left activist party whose current chairperson is well-known labour rights activist Dita Sari.
The PRD was formed in the early 1990s and played a leading role in the struggle to overthrow the Suharto dictatorship. Since the fall of Suharto in 1998, the well-financed parliamentary parties, led by various factions of the political and business elite and embedded in traditional patron-client networks, have dominated the political scene.
Of the nine organizations that are now affiliated to KP-Papernas, three are not formally associated with the PRD. These are the Workers Struggle Solidarity Group, the Indonesian Buddhist Students Association (Hikmahbudhi) and the Indonesian Struggle Transportation Union.
The other six are the PRD itself and PRD-led social movement organisations — the FNPBI, the People’s Cultural Work Network (Jaker), the National Student League for Democracy (LMND), the National Farmers Union (STN) and the Urban Poor Union (SRMK). Most of the 1500 people at the July 23 rally were from the SRMK.
In his speech at the Papernas launch, Domingus Kiuk stressed the need for unity among the working poor to build a movement to defeat imperialist domination of Indonesian. He explained KP-Papernas’s stance of campaigning for what is being called the “Tri Panji” (Three Banners) of struggle — repudiation of the foreign debt; nationalisation of the oil, gas and electricity industries; and implementation of a national-planned industrialisation program.
High-profile and well-respected journalist and political commentator Wimar Witoelar addressed the rally, expressing his support for the Papernas project. Also expressing support were representatives of the Consortium for Agrarian Reform, a network of small farmers, farm workers and indigenous community organisations across Indonesia, and representatives of associations campaigning for compensation to victims of the Suharto regime.
Others who addressed the rally were Mohammed Soubari, a prominent intellectual and critic from the NGO sector; Sukardi Rinakit, secretary-general of the Indonesian Nationalist Association; Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, one of Indonesia’s most prominent women’s activist who is now a member of the National Awakening Party (PKB), which is associated with former president Abdurrahman Wahid.